One, two, three…um four times married?! One grandmother, that I recently discovered, married several times. Although some information suggested that she might have been married five times, I discovered three actual husbands that came with marriage licenses. What do ya say? Go Granny! In an age nearing Victorian prudence, I am not to sure how my 3x grandmother would have fit into the social climate of her day, but it seems she kept trying until she found the right fit!
During the year 1815, Rebecca Saffer was born in Harrison, Indiana to James Saffer and Mary “Polly” Rogers. At the time of her birth, the family was living on a farm in Harrison County. Her father died on May 1, 1829 when she was about fourteen years old. Her mother married Joseph Wilson on November 15 1832.
My grandmother married her first husband, Joshua Kay, on November 1834 in Harrison County, Indiana. He was 27 years old, and she was about nineteen. The couple did not have any children. Joshua remarried again on May 2, 1847.
For her second marriage, I could not find any actual marriage licenses; however, I did discover two sources, one from Family Search and the other from Ancestry. These two sources claimed that she married a William Bruner on August 1, 1836.
On April 25, 1840, Rebecca married William S. Reed in Harrison County, Indiana. He was born about 1815, so he and his bride were about the same age. They had a daughter, Martha; she was born in the year of 1844. William died sometime before 1850.
My grandmother married my grandfather, William Franklin Bryant, on April 28, 1850 in Harrison County, Indiana. Rebecca was about thirteen years older than my grandfather. Together they had three children: Mary (1853), Sarah (1854), and William Franklin (1855).
On their first Federal Census as husband and wife, the correct ages were listed in 1850. However, on the 1860 and 1870 lists, the two were “closer” in age, for those years, my grandmother claimed to be only three years older than her husband. In 1860, the family lived in Woodland, Fulton, Illinois. Although I could not locate any records, my grandmother died about 1875. William remarried a widow, Amanda Salisbury Nickey who had a young daughter. They married on August 16, 1877, and William and Amanda had three sons, John, Charles, and Louis.
While I researched this grandmother, I often wondered how she managed during this time period. Laws did not always favor the married wife who was still considered the property of her husband. Single females didn’t fare much better under the laws, so, I often admired her determination while she searched for the right partner. This grandmother had courage to follow her own dreams even when those aspirations did not follow the social norms and customs of her time.
son of Rebecca Saffer
son of William Franklin Bryant
daughter of William Franklin Bryant
daughter of Elva Marie Bryant
daughter of Dorothy Marie Allen
Photo Courtesy of Matt Mclean @ Unsplash
Note: I just discovered through DNA testing that I had connected with the wrong William Franklin Bryant, so Rebecca Saffer was not my grandmother. Guess, I was “barking up the wrong tree!” I will leave this article on my site in case someone makes a connection.
- 1820 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7734.
- 1830 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8058.
- 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=8054.
- 1860 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7667.
- 1870 United States Federal Census. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7163.
- Ancestry, Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com. Original Data: Family Tree Files Submitted by Ancestry Members., http://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree.
- “Indiana, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850.” Indiana, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1997, search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2087.
- Carpenter, John S. “The Slaughter Family.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 22, no. 3, July 1914, pp. 319–322., http://www.jstor.org/stable/4243369?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.
- “Commemorative Biographical Record of Prominent and Representative Men of Indianapolis and Vicinity – Books on Google Play.” Google, Google/J. H. Beers & Company, 1908, play.google.com/store/books.
- Deatrick, Ronald J., and Claudia Claudia Barnard Coffey. “Mein Name Ist Peter Dietrich.” Google Books, Outskirts Press, 2016, books.google.es/books.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Pedigree Resource File, familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:SGB4-33F.